Could the GOP nominee not even be in the race yet?

Could the GOP nominee not even be in the race yet?

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    Should you be betting against all the current front-runners?

With White House nomination races continuing to dominate the political betting markets in the UK we are sticking with that this morning. In a round-up of where the Republican race lies after Romney’s emphatic victory in Michigan the Guardian‘s man in DC, Richard Adams, raises the possibility that the eventual winner might not yet be in the race.

Under the heading that “only a lunatic or a fool would predict who the eventual nominee will be” Adams writes: “After months of campaigning, tens of millions of dollars spent on advertising and a quartet of primaries and caucuses, the Republicans of America have spoken loud and clear in choosing their presidential candidate. With one voice they have said: “Uh?”..From the snows of Iowa to the snows of New Hampshire to the even deeper snows of Michigan, one thing is clear: nothing…there is a non-negligible possibility that the eventual Republican nominee is not currently running in the primaries. “

The challenge for John McCain, the 3/2 favourite on Betfair, is that the next primary in South Carolina, is closed to those voters registered as independents so that he won’t enjoy the boost he got from that source in New Hampshire. Also, it should be noted, it was this state where his 2000 battle against George Bush effectively came to an end.

So what of the others? You can just about make a case for each of them – but only just. Giuliani‘s strategy of not being serious until Florida might just pay off – but that would muddy the waters even more. Romney won Michigan but his polling against the potential Democratic nominees is dreadful. One poll matching him up against Obama had the black senator from Illinois a staggering 30% in the lead.

Thompson, who was pushing for the favourite slot not so long ago has to make an impression in South Carolina or else he is probably doomed. And what of Mike Huckabee – the charming preacherman from Bill Clinton’s home-town who won Iowa. His performance since then hasn’t been great. Even if he wins on Saturday it’s hard to see him gathering the broader backing to seal the bid and he is loathed by the GOP establishment. The interesting Ron Paul is still there but he is a long way from making a major impact.

Adams, in his article, raises the possibility of the state’s governor, Mark Sandford, as a possibility for the nomination. The excellent Real Clear Politics site had an interesting profile on him some time back but I’m not convinced. He’s not even listed in any betting.

So what does the risk-averse punter looking for a profit actually do? There’s a case for saying that you should be looking to lay (bet against) all of them when the price becomes right.

Mike Smithson

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